Through eight matches, the play of freshman Jesse Shivener was one of the bright spots for the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys tennis team.

Through eight matches, the play of freshman Jesse Shivener was one of the bright spots for the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys tennis team.

Shivener went 6-2 during that stretch, with the losses to Tyler Cempre of Thomas Worthington and Jeremy Mokry of Hilliard Davidson. Cempre was the OCC-Central Division Player of the Year and a Division I district quarterfinalist a year ago, and Mokry went 14-2 last season.

"I wasn't sure what his exact record would be, but he definitely has impressed me with the way he has handled the situation," senior Phillip Vail said. He's quite a talent."

Given the strength of the early schedule -- the Lions already have played Thomas, Davidson, Dublin Coffman, Pickerington North, Dublin Scioto and DeSales -- coach Mike O'Callaghan is pleased with his team's play. Through eight matches, it was 4-4.

"Davidson and Thomas Worthington dominated us, but Coffman and (Pickerington North) were 3-2 matches I think we could reverse if we had the opportunity," he said.

Shivener has been ranked as high as the top 40 in the USTA Ohio Valley region's 16-and-under classification. A self-described "aggressive baseliner," he possesses power from both sides. He believes his backhand is the more consistent stroke, but O'Callaghan said Shivener is able to end points just as efficiently with the forehand.

"I don't have a big serve," Shivener said. "I just try to grind people down from the baseline."

O'Callaghan said he has been most impressed by Shivener's ability to focus in high-pressure situations.

"He's a tournament-tested player," he said. "He has the ability to bear down and concentrate, especially in third sets. That's something that will definitely be to his advantage."

Shivener should receive a pair of tests when Gahanna plays host Wednesday to Olentangy Liberty and will play May 1 at Lancaster. Liberty's Arren Carter was a state qualifier a year ago, and Robbie Schmidt of Lancaster is an experienced singles player.

"That will give us a better gauge of where he might fit," O'Callaghan said.

Results aside, Shivener has enjoyed the team aspect of high-school tennis.

"With USTA tournaments, the focus is on you," he said. "With a team out there, there's more. ... That positive energy helps with close matches. Overall it's been a good influence."

ĽALSO -- Gahanna will play host today to Hilliard Darby in the first of a pair of critical OCC-Ohio matches.

The Lions are 2-0 in the league and have won nine of 10 courts. Lancaster is 2-0 and has won eight courts, but lost two to Darby.

Gahanna, which has not won an OCC title in 26 years, can take command with a 4-1 or 5-0 win over Darby and a victory over Lancaster. The league tournament is May 10.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Gahanna Lincoln boys tennis team:

April 15 -- Lost Thomas Worthington 5-0

April 16 -- Defeated DeSales 4-1

*April 17 -- Def. Groveport 4-1

Last Tuesday -- Played Upper Arlington B

*Today -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby

Tuesday -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg

Wednesday -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty

Of note: The Lions were 4-4 overall before last Tuesday and are 2-0 in the OCC-Ohio.

*OCC-Ohio match